An Australian company has invented a machine which can alter alcohol content in wine - amongst other handy applications.

The company, Memstar, demonstrated a device that can adjust the alcohol and volatile acid content of wine, as well as remove wine faults such as smoke taint from bush fires, and brettanomyces.

The system works by reverse osmosis, first separating low molecular weight components such as water, acetic acid and alcohol. These are removed as permeated matter or ‘permeate’.

These components are then heated and passed over a membrane, which extracts some of the alcohol.

At the same time volatile acid is removed by passing the permeate over ion exchange resins (commonly used in water softeners).

Smoke taint is removed by passing the permeate over activated charcoal, which absorbs aromatic chemicals

The treated permeate is then recombined with the other components to reconstitute the wine.

Winemakers at the demonstration tasted samples of the same wine with varying alcohol content to pick a ‘sweet spot’ where mouth feel, nose, fruit expression and palate are at a optimum.

Memstar director David Wollan stressed that the wine lost none of its flavour components in the process and had nothing added to it.

Written by Frank Smith